Painting of the Week – Jacarandá

The world is a wonderful place, you see. Full of mysteries and wonders.

There is this tree, called the Jacarandá (no idea how to pronounce it in English), that in Buenos Aires, lines a lot of the main avenues and a great number of the parks. When it blooms, it looks like a giant agapanthus flower, lining the streets.

It was one of my grandmother’s favorite trees. And no wonder! It’s beautiful.

Actually, besides being beautiful, the Jacarandá is one of the tree species that consumes the most CO2, approximately 4,000 pounds a year! Beautiful and ‘green’ at the same time.

The following painting, ‘Jacarandá,’ reminds me so much of the Bosques de Palermo – these amazing plazas / parks that line the Avenida Libertador in Buenos Aires, where a lot of these trees are planted. I used to spend many afternoons in these parks when I was a kid.

JacarandaRGB copy

I worked on this piece a couple of months ago and I started by using colors that I liked. As with watercolor, you never know what the end product will look like because it dries differently, and now, the piece reminds me so much of Buenos Aires and so much of my grandmother that I can’t give it up. I made a print of it and have it hanging in my office. A daily reminder of her.

‘Jacarandá’, watercolor on paper, 5×7 in.

If you would like to purchase some of my art, you can visit my shop!

Photo © Maria Rigou for Groundhog Design



Painting of the Week

unnamedI present to you “Landscape in Coral II.” I worked on this piece this past week for my upcoming show (Nov. 13 in Phinney Ridge, Seattle) but it took me a while to complete, so I don’t think it is going to be ready and framed in time for the show.

The past couple of months have been complicated – moving, a lot of work, a lot of visitors and my trip to Argentina – so I’ve been unmotivated, to say the least. I’m happy that this piece turned out as it did!

I have been noticing, however, that I’ve been migrating from pools of color to more ‘landscapey’ forms for the past couple of months, but completely by accident! I consider my art to be abstract, but you can definitely see a hint of a landscape here, no?

If you would like to purchase some of my art, you can visit my shop!

Photo © Maria Rigou for Groundhog Design

Mummy brown*

*and other historical colors!

This weekend I came across this interesting illustration that explains a little bit more about the history of colors. I was never a ‘color-nut’, I would rather go about and identify colors as ‘purple,’ ‘orange,’ or ‘white,’ instead of ‘mauveine,’ ‘realgar,’ or ‘chalk.’ However, when I started going to my painting class, that changed. And I am now a color nerd.

Take a look at this incredibly educational comic and click on the link (below the image) to take you to the original source to read the descriptions. I hope you enjoy is as much as I did! And thank you, Veritable Hokum!

Source: Veritable Hokum by Korwin Briggs

Hey, I could do that!

Last night, someone in one of the groups I belong to (hi Creatives Club! :)) posted this very interesting video about art and it got me thinking about exactly what is it that artists do and where we get our inspiration from.

I have written on this blog about one of my current inspirations, J M W Turner, and his strokes, combinations of color and overall composition and how I love that, even though he is “officially” a Romantic landscape painter, his art has some sort of abstraction to it – an abstraction that is usually found in nature (and that is what attracts me to his art!).

But going back to the video. The examples that she mentions are just spot on: Mondrian (Hey, I could do that!) and Cy Twombly (Hey, a kid could do that!) and it made me think of the many times I’ve heard someone tell me “well, maybe I can copy it,” or “why spend X amount of money if I can make it.”

And the reality is that no, you probably can’t make it. Every artist is unique in its own way. Brush strokes vary depending on our handedness and even on the lengths of our arms (I think this is actual, factual, technical information by the way) or how much training we’ve had and with who . Also, what are the chances that you reproduce the colors exactly as they are represented in this piece? There is also the creative thought that is moving the piece, the technique, the materials used, etc, that make this piece a whole.

But I think of the most important aspect of reproduction and it is just that, reproduction. Creating art is an art; it involves hours and hours of training and practice and botched projects; it involves many frustrations and ideas that not necessarily translate to paper as we envisioned them; it takes time and energy and materials. And it is close to our hearts.

For me, reproduction is not the same (unless your piece is meant for reproduction like a photograph or a stamp, or other amazing types of art that are out there that are meant to be reproduced!) as owning an original piece that was maybe done for your or done for others. I’m not diminishing in any way the fact that art can and will continue to be reproduced, I’m just saying that for me, it is not the same. Do you think it is the same to own an original Matisse painting vs. a reproduction that you bought at the museum shop? I still own reproductions of art because I can’t afford the original piece, but reproductions sold to me by the artist, not something that I made because, hey! I could do that.

We need to protect the artist and the art.

Although, they say that imitation is the best kind of flattery

‘Gloomy’ Creation Sneak Peak

A couple of weeks ago I recorded myself – in hyperlapse – doing one of my abstract paintings.

This is the process:

I have been extremely smitten on Payne’s Gray, as I’ve mentioned before. It is such a versatile color, I can’t get over it!

Here is what the piece looks like. My teacher, Patrick, says it is his favorite painting I’ve done, by far. I’m not too sure I love it that much.


It’s called “Gloom” and it’s 14×14 on watercolor paper, and, guess what? It’s available to purchase on my shop!

Psst, you can also see all my left-handed goodness in the video!

Photo © Maria Rigou for Groundhog Design

Watercolor Inspiration – JMW Turner

When I was in college, I was fortunate enough to be able to do a semester abroad and I chose to go to the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. I didn’t do much traveling while there, but I did get to go to London a couple of times – more like three – and in each and every one of those visits, I spent days and days in museums.

Did you know that National Museums in the UK are free to visitors? I think it’s because they are owned by the State and sponsored by the Department of Culture and subsidized so that both nationals and tourists can enjoy the collections. However, some special exhibits are paid.

I’m a sucker for all things modern, so one of the days I walked the Tate Modern in its entirety and got to see some Rothko upfront. And then (but not at the Tate Modern)… I discovered J.M.W. Turner – not to be confused with William Turner – a Romantic painter, water-colorist and print maker.

His paintings are so intricate and detailed, but at the same time they have a weirdly abstract feel. I fell in love instantly. And his paintings have served as an inspiration for my art ever since, although recently they weren’t really consciously present. I was reminded of him by my teacher when I worked on “The Calm Before the Storm” – which I shared with you already.

This is one of my favorites – Storm Clouds: Sunset with a Pink Sky (1833).

I have been doing some more Googling of his images and I am definitely inspired to work similarly – with a similar color palette at least – in the near future.

Stay tuned for more Turner-inspired work. In the meantime, check out my Instagram account to see the two small paintings I worked on today.

If you would like to purchase some of my art, visit my Etsy shop!

Source: Art Observed.

The Calm Before the Storm


I worked on this painting sometime in June. I don’t have a specific date and while I was thinking about this post, I vowed to make sure that I write down specific date for each of the pieces I do, just for my own mental peace.

I’ve been using a lot of Payne’s Gray recently (the bluish tone you see) because I’ve been moody, and I think that this color gives me a lot of options when putting it on the paper: it can be very saturated or watered-down, and I looks like it might be different colors.

Payne’s Gray is a bluish-gray color that is, nowadays, created using ultramarine blue and black. It was named after William Payne, an 18th-century watercolor artist.

Fun fact: Because of his novel techniques in drawing and the ease these could be learned, Payne became the most fashionable drawing-master in London at the end of the 18th century. Neat!

I hope you like “The Calm Before the Storm”, watercolor, 22 x 30 in.

If you would like to purchase some of my art, visit my shop!

Painting(s) of the Week

Update: These two paintings are now up for sale in my Etsy shop.

My painting class is getting ready for a show next month! We are pretty stoked about it, especially because our stuff is going to be up during the whole month of August at Cafe Louvre, in Edmonds (if you are in the area, go visit and check out what we do during the year in Patrick’s class!)

Anyhow. To prepare for this show, I worked on two rather small pieces (5×7 in) that I think turned out really nicely. I’m digging this whole watercolor thing and also getting more and more confident in showing the things I do to other people besides my family…

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Both pieces (Reflective Lake -left- and Orange -right-) will be available for sale on my shop soon!

Photos © Maria Rigou for Groundhog Design and I apologize for the quality, lighting is bad in my apartment and I haven’t figured it out just yet….

Painting of the Week

Since the beginning of December I’ve been taking a painting class with Patrick Howe, a Seattle-based oil and watercolor artist. It’s pretty much an open studio situation – I go right after work and use that time and space to work on anything that I might want. Patrick provides guidance and can critique if asked. Sometimes he does demos for the class – like 2D and 3D perspective drawing and painting techniques-, we talk about other artists and see their work, etc.

Recently, I’ve been working with watercolor. Before finding Patrick’s class, I was a strictly acrylic paint amateur artist, and always thought watercolors were impossible to work with and that you had to be super talented to master the medium. I was wrong. I am not super talented and yet I can manage to make some pretty interesting things in class. I’m getting excited about my painting because I discovered the wonderful world of framing and putting stuff up on my walls.

Anyway. Now that I have explained a little bit more about my system – or at least how I do art – I bring you the Painting of the Week!

Untitled – watercolor on paper, 22 in x 30 in.

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If you are interested in purchasing some of my art, visit my shop!

Photos © Maria Rigou for Groundhog Design